Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Portrait of an Artist Seeking Enlightenment

Be it causes, components, conditions, and perceptions, separateness is but an illusion.’

Michaelangelo understood it, but only viscerally.
Davinci comprehended it, observed it and noted it
Today’s scientists measure it and try to quantify it
Buddha understood it, comprehended it, and quantified
It, and expounded upon it, and became enlightened.

What is it?

It’s something I was instructed upon, gently, since my studies with Lama first began, but I had to put it into a context that I could truly understand. And for me to understand I mean truly comprehend it right down to my bones, I have to see it.

Blame it on my biological mother. She came from Missouri, the ‘show me’ state.

That realization hit me just as I started to drift off to sleep. I lay on my side, gazing at the moonlight slanting through the upper window pane, the light toying with tiny crystals dangling from a dream catcher I hung there a few years ago.

Although there wasn’t enough light to cast a full prism of color, there was light. There was shadow. The shadows cast by the dresser, by the herb cabinet, by the book case. Long blocks of moonlight lay on the floor, soft white against the black.

And then, the artist inside me understood. And when I understood, everything Lama taught me about grasping, interconnection and emptiness clicked into place.

Two, maybe three years ago (I can’t remember) Lama Jigme asked me to go out on a moonlit night with a bucket of water, place the bucket where the moon could be reflected into the water, then try and grasp the reflection.

Try it sometimes. It’s quite a revelation.

What I thought I understood then was only a visceral perception of something much larger. Something that I didn’t quite get then, although I thought I had.

Yeah yeah, so you can’t pick up a reflection, so what?

The moonlight filtering through the glass
The light striking the crystals
The greater beams casting themselves into large blocks onto the floor.

As an artist, I understand that everything we see is in lights and shadows. Whenever you take a class in basic drawing, that’s one of the first things you learn. The second thing you learn is drawing things that are not there. But more on that later.
The human brain perceives the world in light and shadow. It’s only a dim illusion to what is really out there.(the key here being illusion) As any neurologist will tell you, the brain can only take in so much data. It discards what it considers irrelevant and focuses on things that make sense to it. Like looking at a tree and seeing a face in the bark. In reality, there is no face, but your brain, having difficulty trying to comprehend the data it’s receiving, constructs something that makes sense to it. Hence, a face.

Clear as mud?

Probably. Probably not.

So what we really see isn’t real, not in the context of a greater reality outside the limited comprehension of our minds. And if we did see the ‘big picture,’ our heads would probably explode.

The moonlight.
The crystals.
The shadows.

Scientists have given us a broader scope of what can be seen by means of infrared, ultraviolet, and microwave radiation. All of which are part of the light spectrum. But even those are shadows of something else.

So what creates the shadows? What creates the light? What creates the darkness?

Just, what is, exactly, the speed of dark?

Emptiness is form. Form is also emptiness.
Mull it over, and I’ll tell you more tomorrow.
Feel free to comment. I always enjoy reading comments.



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